Egg bound chicken

My sweet Sicilian Buttercup – here she is in February

Thursday evening ..I noticed one of my 2 year old sweet Sicilian buttercups – a smaller sized Mediterranean egg laying breed – she had a little bit of a dirty butt …and there was some skin showing. She also was not running around for food like all the others. I checked her out and …hm yes, there seemed to be an egg inside. I let her roost to give her a chance to lay early in the morning …then I hit the internet – egg binding causes, treatment and  – …… I hardly slept that night —- worried.

Egg binding is apparently a fairly common condition in egg laying chickens. It can strike at all ages. Here are some supposedly predisposing factors:

  • obesity
  • malnutrition
  • lack of calcium
  • egg too big or malformed
  • egg retention for some other reason
  • infection
  • overbreeding
  • early laying

As with many conditions – the early bird may catch the worm: OBSERVATION is key. several days into this conditions is not as good as if you catch it within a day or 2. It is deadly.

Funny walking, standing around, not eating, suddenly showing dirty butt or visible skin around vent area are all things to get you to investigate.

This investigation includes feeling the abdomen …mostly: do you feel an egg inside?

Yes there was ….

Calcium is supposed to help. Did I have any liquid calcium on hand? Yes, someone in the house had some liquid calcium supplements. I gave her some on scrambled eggs, later I dropper fed her some since she got smart real quick. Does giving calcium orally make a difference – no idea, but i figured it would not hurt and might possibly help once it got absorbed. The thing is – if the egg is very big and the muscles get stretched too thin – they won’t be able to contract. The fibers just won’t work any more.
I gave her a warm sitz-bath, 15-20 minutes is a good time, gently massaging her belly, put her in a dog crate afterwards. It was warm enough so I did not have to worry about blow drying her. While I was hoping the bath helped – I knew she hadn’t passed this thing all day yesterday at least, but – sometimes the baths help. You are supposed to repeat …but others say if it didn’t work in an hour or 2, you need to extract it. Where did I do the bath: right there in the run – the least stressful place – and luckily it was not cold – otherwise you’d need a blow dryer.

I was wondering, in case I would have to manually help her, what is on top, the oviduct or the intestines?…so off to the internet again, looking for chicken anatomy pics.

Location of the reproductive tract in a female chicken. Source: Public domain
Reproductive tract of a female chicken. Source: Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky

Ok, so the egg comes out on top….so when palpating into the vent …the opening for the egg will be up….and it was.

Some folks also mention a liberal use of a lubricant – I had nothing but coconut or olive oil, I chose the coconut oil in case she didn’t pass it. I was not gonna hang her upside down just yet, presumably so the lubricant would go all around the egg?. I did end up putting it right on the egg that was showing and on the vent skin.

After a couple of hours of waiting after the first bath, no egg had passed, no poop and she was standing forlorn inside the dog crate.

I had seen her earlier a couple of times trying to poop, but she was not able to. So really, there was no point waiting.

I went to work to set up another bath and extra warm and cold water on the side, the coconut oil and gloves, though after

oh no – i was making an edit and the rest of the text vanished…will try to rewrite:( – so if you read this before – from here on – it will be different.

…ok then, here we continue – …though after cleaning the area I ended up not using a glove as I have more sensitivity in my fingertips without.

She relaxed in the bath after a few minutes, the water about 3 – 4 inches deep – just enough to get the vent area soaking. Luckily she had always liked to hop on me and never had an objection to being held. I told her we needed to get the egg out, gently massaging, stretching the vent, pushing on the egg – putting the oil on the vent and on the egg (though I wasn’t holding here upside down as some suggested). I felt inside her and could feel the egg, felt the bones on the outside, the abdomen and then – all the while sweet talking to her …went about to gently work on pushing more – periodically applying more coconut oil into the vent opening.

I had practiced ahead of time how much and where to put pressure on an already laid egg and not have it break. That info came in very handy now. A couple of times this sweet girl actually tried to help and pushed, but really, she could not get that egg out. There started to be some tissue swelling and I knew that this egg had to come out now – or it would be way harder and more painful later.

After a while, more of the egg showed and eventually … while she let out a little scream  and with some tear and minor bleeding, the egg came out. It was big, too big for her. I showed it to her,  she relaxed in my lap and we stayed like that a few minutes. She knew exactly that I had helped her and it was done – and it felt as if she was relieved. I just silently prayed that inside of her all the membranes stayed intact thorough all the pushing. This is a tiny hen (though not bantam) and the egg was large, or very large, and sort of misshapen. I will crack it at at some point to see what is inside.

The big, slightly odd shaped egg was hers – she just could not get it over the ridge

I am grateful the egg was out and that it did not break. Thank you ….

I cleaned the vent area one more time with the clean extra warm water that was left, applied more coconut oil and put her in the already prepared and covered brooder/hospital box – where she pretty much stood there all afternoon with  eyes closed and hanging wings  trying to get them dry.

She did take some soft food (kefir, egg yolk and some chick starter with kefir) in the evening.

I am of course wondering why did she lay such a big egg? Was it that the big rooster mated with her?  It can be hard on small hens with large roosters in the flock. She is thin too, all my chickens are thin actually. I had one die of a heat stroke last year after she fought with a broody. I was there but I didn’t know yet to get them under cold water right away …but when I looked, she had a fair bit of fat!!! I cut down on feed then, but I think they are getting enough – layer crumbles. which should provide all the calcium necessary, kitchen scraps, though not that much, all their egg shells, a bit of scratch and they free range all day. I would think if they didn’t get enough food they’d stop laying. hm…

The next morning

She came to the front of the box this morning, was eating some more soft food – but I didn’t see any poop –  and I let her out for an hour into the coop …she walked carefully, the back still looking funny from not dry feathers? or maybe too much oil? but no visible redness. …she pooped though – I never thought I’d be happy to see chicken poop :).

I sat down on the floor and, as she usually does, she hopped on my shoulder and then I put her on my lap for a while, preening her while she kinda fell asleep. Sent her love and healing through my hands too. She spent the rest of the afternoon inside the brooder box,  shielded with a cloth.

Shaking something off … but walking gently and slowly

Of course I am worried there will be another egg soon, or a whole bunch of soft shelled piled up inside her.

If a taking her to a vet is an option,

  • calcium shots might be a thing to consider
  • Lupron shots to keep her from ovulating and
  • getting her spayed.

Other than talking to her and explaining to her what I was doing, I had also run the Karma-Wash Orb from urthgame for her (which I use for prayer for others) and called in the spirit guides with an old native American chant which was taught to me by a shaman a long long time ago. And then, you do the best you can – and let go and let God.

What if the egg had not come out? – You can try this: Get help holding and you’ll need a large needle and syringe – to puncture the shell, aspirate the contents and then sqush the egg down and hope she will pass it…use of lubricant recommended here too…and pray none of the edges will puncture any membranes.

Update Saturday evening, 30 hours after the egg came out: she was much more perky, looked better, wanted to eat and even scratched around in the coop. Again, I fed the rest of the flock in the free range area, closing the coop and run off. She even wanted to roost …and managed to fly onto it after 2 tries… while she was up there,  I palpated the area checking for another egg – but felt none. I hope that is a good sign – but I told here she needs to take it easy still. Not sure how I will manage her (or any chicken’s) desire to be with the flock …and the fact that the flock has roosters – and she does NOT need any mating atm. I already am keeping the 2 younger ones separate – but there are 2 others.

What if I saw redness developing and increasing? I would assume infection is happening and would crush up a leftover Augmentin and give it to her…not the whole thing, just a small potion of the finely clushed tablet …so what if it is too much, so not totally the right kind — doing nothing will likely be worse.

In any case, that is the story so far. So grateful the egg got out and didn’t break, she is eating and appears to be doing better…my sweet buttercup. I have looked into your eyes and told you: I love you. Nothing can ever take that.

Sunday morning – just short of 48 hours since that egg got out – she is feeling better, soft abdomen – as in – i could not feel an egg. She wants to eat, moves at good speed and is interested in preening herself. After being in the coop/run for a while (without the rest of the flock except the mamas and a laying hen) – she actually wanted to go back into her box-nest …but when i checked later – no egg. I just wonder tell if she will be an internal layer? Or what is happening with the eggs production – – only time will tell. There is really nothing I will be able to do about that. – but of course, worrying isn’t gonna do anyone any good ….:)

There she is going to the back onto her nest – not a great picture, but it shows her hospital box/ex-brooder


Monday – 3 days after, I was not sure about her at all this morning when i let her out. She didn’t seem too interested in food ….still no egg palpable, but her abdomen seems “full”. Poops are runny. But she walked around and pecked around ….ate some and after about 2 hours …she voluntarily went beck into her box, where she stayed the rest of the day – with food and water. I crushed up some egg shells and oyster shell and added that to femente4d layer feed….so that was her option after she didn’t even want egg yolk in the morning. I added extra calcium – in case she is internally “laying” soft shelled eggs. who knows – in any case, I thought it would not hurt. In the evening …she was much more active. Funny how already some of the other hens had a staring contest with her, though no fighting. It is indeed important to keep her exposed daily with at least a couple of members of the flock …she is so small, she’d not do well if pecking order would have to be reestablished. I did keep her away from the roosters, one of which went a little nuts seeing her …..sigh. She ate of the various offerening, had a little bath, cleaned herself up some more. When she hops on my shoulder, I can still smell the coconut oil

My concern: that she is internally laying soft shelled eggs, rather than having stopped laying. If she is an internal layer, nothing more i can do – so I have to let go and pray she stopped laying and will just recover. Only time will tell. She never did stop saying high …hopping on my left shoulder 🙂

she still hops on my shoulder every day

Tuesday – 4 days later – she still is slow to get going in the morning, but acted much more normal in the afternoon, eats (though picky) did take a dustbath, poos are normalizing from being a little runny. …. still no egg – her comb did look a little bit paler at some point. keeping my fingers crossed. Since it took 2 weeks for a broken toe to heal, i will be careful for at least another week – but she does get flock time daily.

She is getting flock time (hens only) to try to prevent her from having to re-establish pecking order. As it is, there have been a number of staring contests, the only fight were with the 2 broodies in tight spaces – and I stopped those. Those broodies can go off easily, and none of my buttercups are “chicken”

Wednesday – 5 days since we got that egg out.

She seemed almost normal, even the feathers in the back are getting fluffy again. She spent most of the day with a lot of the flock in the extended run. Since it took a full week for a broken toe to really get better – and the chicken back to normal walking was 2 weeks – I was planning to not let her be with the full flock till then.
However, at 6 pm today when i came back to the chickens – she was just standing there like one of those sick hens. I picked her up and sat with her, petting her and she just closed her eyes. …No abdominal swelling, redness, not squishyness not egg palpable. I put her back into the hospital box and after another hour, offer some food…she takes some and since the other chickens are all elsewhere, I let her scratch and peck for a while till she decides to go to the main coop to roost. There I talk to her some and bring her back into the box. She was ok with that. I am wondering if there is some infection going on. Wondering if i should crush an antibiotic tablet and give her some of it. Or – I make it as good and normal and flock included for her as I can and let God.

So after a good looking morning – worries in the afternoon. No new pictures today. She does have a new name, or rather, an addition: Sweet One – I called her “Suzie”  way back then when she was 6 months old. But really, she is my Sweet Buttercup.

This image is from yesterday – You can tell she is petite.

I named her “Suzie” way back when she was 6 months old, but really, I call her Sweet One – My Sweetie. This is 4 days after egg extraction.

Thursday, June 5 – 6 days after egg removal.

She ate VERY little, wanted to go out of her box and carefully walked around, pecking here and there, scratching a little. She did drink a lot. I sat with her for a while, petting/preening her, can’t find anything wrong externally, didn’t feel an egg, she just isn’t acting right. Her poops are small, a little runny, but ok, and the crop does have some soft food in it.I broke down and crushed that antibiotic tablet, dissolved some and gave it to her. Not sure it was right, but if it is an infection, it might help. I sat with her again and she just closed her eyes. I did do some hands on energy healing with her also. Later …I checked, she did not want to eat …went into the grass …when I came back with the camera again later – I was looking for her, finally found her: she had gone back into her box…where in the meantime about 7 hens had put their eggs …and she acted like she was wanting to be a mama …definitely not wanting to have another hen enter the cage. I didn’t have the heart to take away the eggs ….let her be …gave her fresh water and some semi fermented feed ….and we’ll see. She was with the flock till then ….and I feel better her being tucked in safely – now that that is where she wanted to be. I think: if at all it is possible, let the chicken be with the flock. Too bad though that I don’t know how many eggs there were, now that I think of it ….
It reminds me of how one of the Andalusian hens acted last year – going broody but then not knowing what to do with hatched chicks but throw them out. But being a confused broody is better than going down from some unknown complications of being having been egg bound.

She voluntarily had returned to her box and was acting like she belonged on the eggs.

Anyway, the suspense continues. – Well, in the evening, she was ready to go out, though nothing urgent. the eggs were not warm, she had eaten some f the feed i left her. She ate a littlw and then when onto the roost – and today I let her. She preened herself  a bit…and was still there when all the others came in. We’ll see. Maybe keeping her separate was needed – but what if these chicks get timid, or semi depressed? If she settled on the eggs from some urge to lay, but can’t …nothing I can do unless I feel and egg.

Friday, June, 6, 2014 – 1 week now

I let her roost with the flock – and be with the hens all day …she is acting much more normal – but every time i check on them (there are the 2 mamas with babies also 🙂 she looks at me quizzically – as if wondering if i am going to pick her up to give ther some medicine or something. For the first time, she didn’t hop on my shoulder …but you would not be able to tell her apart from the others if you didn’t know. Feeling hopeful she just stopped laying and will be ok.

Saturday …so far so good